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Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010


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    [post_content] => Last year when Dragons first visited the OPA permaculture project in Diogo, Isabela mentioned a desire to have a cob pizza oven on the land. This past year, in between Dragons trips, I have been studying natural building and have had the opportunity to participate in the making of multiple earthen ovens. This year when planning out the sustainability activities that we would engage in during the trip, we decided it would be great to teach the students how to build an oven on the land. I was so excited to be able to finally combine two of my greatest passions: Dragons and natural building. However, when we arrived in Brazil we were greeted by day after day of intense rain. Building with dirt in the rain is not a practical activity. So i was a bit concerned about the feasibility of our project. Another major concern regarded the materials. Cob is a combination of sand, clay, and straw. Since this is a beach community, sand was no problem. Clay, however, was hard to come by. There was no way that we could build the oven without clay. We also needed straw to help hold the oven together. But there was no straw for us to use. It was starting to look like the project would not happen. But students were excited about the prospect so we tried our best to make it happen.  

We began by picking out the appropriate site. We decided to build it adjacent to the bench Dragons students constructed last year. The OPA land was flooded so as we dug out a ditch for the foundation, it quickly filled up with water. Edward worked really hard on the truly never-ending task of emptying it out with buckets. While Lauren hammered out the part of the bench we would not be using in order to salvage materials, Bobby, Edward and Nik dug out a drainage path and created what became known as ¨lake Bik¨.We filled in the drainage area with gravel and then the salvaged cement from the old bench. Then all of the students took turns creating a super adobe foundation, Hans, Joe, Edward, and Kathryn demonstrating particular force and skill. We filled rice bags with sand and then tamped them down to form a rock-solid and water-impermeable foundation for the bench. the next day we lightly covered the super adobe base with a bit of cement and then laid out regular bricks and then special fire bricks.

Foundation finished, it was time to concern ourselves with the actual oven. Taylor, Bobby and I walked all around the land with no luck in terms of finding clay-rich soil. We then took our search out to the river bed and eventually struck gold! The clay ratio was still low but it just might possibly work. We then put our heads together to solve the straw dilemma. After observing the options that the land offered to us, we decided to take Marcelo´s suggestion and use fibres from the coconut trees that had been feeding us and quenching our thirst for the past few days. While some ppl harvested clay (Victoria, Edward, and Taylor´s team in particular harvesting almost enough to build a house!), others collected coconut fibres and set them out to dry. Once they were dried, Niki, Lauren, Hanna, and our new friend Daniella worked to tear them apart into small, usable pieces.

The next day, students used their feet to mix together the sand, clay, and coconut fibres. Once enough cob was made, we built a large sand dome on the oven base. We then built a cob oven around the dome! The sun was setting as we worked and as the sky darkened, the pacequickened. I have never seen cobbers work so fast! The final piece of earth was set after dark so we had to wait until the next day to see how the oven actually looked.

On the final day, we were excited to see an actual oven! Students decided to sculpt a dragon on the top of it. Then we all took turns carving the sand out from the inside of the oven, Niki in particular sticking around until past lunch time to help. We held our breath as the sand came out, hoping that the oven would stand on its own. With all the rain, lack of clay, and absence of straw, the result was questionable. However, with great relief, and total group pride, we witnessed the birth of a solid cob pizza oven. Not only were Dragons able to provide OPA with a new, sustainable, earthen oven, but all of the Dragons students now have the skills to build their own cob oven, where ever they might go!
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Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

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Dragons students build an earthen pizza oven at OPA permaculture site

Adelaide Nalley,Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

Description

Last year when Dragons first visited the OPA permaculture project in Diogo, Isabela mentioned a desire to have a cob pizza oven on the land. This past year, in between Dragons trips, I have been studying natural building and have had the opportunity to participate in the making of multiple earthen ovens. This year when […]

Posted On

07/8/10

Author

Adelaide Nalley

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    [post_content] => Yesterday our group entered Salvador. Before entering I had never seen pictures of this exotic city nor knew anything other than my Brazil guide book's warning of theivery. After two bus rides, I exited into on of the most beautiful cities on earth. Everything that I love about cities and Brazil combined to create Salvador. In the historic area where we are staying cobble stone hills lead you through an architectural cornucopia. Each colorful building clashes with the next as detailed wire and engraved wood highlight the edges. In love with the city already, I was shocked to discover that yes it was possible to decide to live somewhere after an hour. We set our rather large bags in the OPA house, an old, beautiful building, designed to promote urban permaculture, and left for lunch. Passing stores of trinkets and knick knacks hidden within the historic buildings we came upon on average Bahain restaurant. While the meal was good, I could go for days describing (and eating) the dessert, acai. A berry that is frozen then sweetened then blended then mixed with granola and banana. I'm pretty sure there is not a more delicious dish out there. Once my bowl of acai was empty I was able to digest not only my food but the city as well. Salvador promoted the color and lively culture that Brazil is known for. The citizens proudly parade their heritage as they strut down the sidewalk. I people-watch as I meander back to the OPA house. An hour or so later, the group is shuffling into a folklorico dance proformance. The dance was unlike anything I've ever seen before. My only previous encouters had been a dozen or so nutcracker ballets (thanks dad). This folklorico took the grace and meticulous design of ballet and then pounded in sensual and spiritual rythem. The dancers bodies moved together, conquering both space as well as their own bodies. The day ended with chocolate coconut ice cream and I was able to sleep and look forward to three more days in the world's best city.   
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Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

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Salvador

Lauren Johnstone,Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

Description

Yesterday our group entered Salvador. Before entering I had never seen pictures of this exotic city nor knew anything other than my Brazil guide book’s warning of theivery. After two bus rides, I exited into on of the most beautiful cities on earth. Everything that I love about cities and Brazil combined to create Salvador. […]

Posted On

07/8/10

Author

Lauren Johnstone

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    [post_content] => It’s time to leave! We leave at 10 in the morning to head over to Salvador. So that means bye Diogo. The bugs decided to bite me for the last time so they had a party on my skin ``YAY. `` No more OPA land, No more river swimming , no more ant bites, no more fish for lunch (hopefully), Just playing, and especially no more X burgers or Americanos. I have learned a lot in Diogo, but above all I have found a family. There´s still five weeks left, and there is more in store waiting for us in the rest of the trip. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know this, all of us will accomplish many things on this trip, as long as we ``keep moving fowad``
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Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

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Good Bye Diogo

Edward Trujano,Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

Description

It’s time to leave! We leave at 10 in the morning to head over to Salvador. So that means bye Diogo. The bugs decided to bite me for the last time so they had a party on my skin “YAY. “ No more OPA land, No more river swimming , no more ant bites, no […]

Posted On

07/7/10

Author

Edward Trujano

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In Capoeria class last night our group really bonded. We all got up and danced in front of everyone even though we were all really nervous. Even though we made tons of mistakes, we all tried our hardest and were able to laugh at ourselves. At the end of the class we all went around and expressed our gratitude for the towns hospitality. We realized that even though there is a language barrier for most of us we are all human and can communicate in other ways than words. I think I speak for everyone when I say we are all extremely grateful for the families of Diogo who welcomed us into their homes and culture.

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Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

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Capoeira

Taylor Connors,Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

Description

In Capoeria class last night our group really bonded. We all got up and danced in front of everyone even though we were all really nervous. Even though we made tons of mistakes, we all tried our hardest and were able to laugh at ourselves. At the end of the class we all went around […]

Posted On

07/6/10

Author

Taylor Connors

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I could start this yak talking about all of the amazing things we have done over the past week, but I see that my eager group peers have done a pretty great job describing our trip so far.

Therefore, I will talk about what is going on right now, for in Brazil it seems that the present moments are the ones to care about the most.

I´m sitting in thePonto Cultural, the community center of Diogo, listening to all of the great sounds around me. The boys are sitting with a bunch of locals on the outside porch while Nik plays the guitar and sings, bringing a smile to everyone´s face. In the room infront of me I hear the contagious laughs of everyone watchingVictoria, who is doing her best to befriend the 13 year old locals..... I have to say, the one thing that really, REALLY brings us all together is that we all love a good laugh.

The reason I am talking about the sounds I am hearing from my peers right now is, while it may sound odd, that these are noises I am pretty unfamiliar with. Why can a bunch of 17 year olds sit around with complete strangers from the other half of the world and still manage to be so open, happy, and exuberantly joyous?

The immense sense of community that is binds the Brazilian way of life has discretly began to take us over. We can sit in a group of people we know nothing about but still feel as though they are a friend of ours and all we want to do is get to know them and hear about their life.

Example of this community feel: The walls of the homes rarely connect to the ceiling - therefore, providing full time servielence of every sound going on in the house. I must say listening to my hilarious host father sing his heart out while showering every night has been one of the highlights of this trip so far.

I am a little tired and about 5 other people are pushing me to finish my endless Yak but I would like to end this saying I LOVE BRAZIL. Everyone asked why I chose to come here and while it may be difficult to explain, Brazil really chose me. I love the air, the smells, the people, the colors, the dirt, the SHUVA, the language, and really just everything about this place. I can see myself spending a good deal of my life living here, happily.

J`espere que tu es bien, Mamou. Je suis tres bien et je ne peux pas attends te regarder. Je t`aime!!!!!!!!!!!!

EIW

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Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

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Shuva!

Kathryn Cherkas,Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

Description

I could start this yak talking about all of the amazing things we have done over the past week, but I see that my eager group peers have done a pretty great job describing our trip so far. Therefore, I will talk about what is going on right now, for in Brazil it seems that […]

Posted On

07/6/10

Author

Kathryn Cherkas

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Capoeira class ended not too many hours ago, and while it is fresh in my mind I wanted to share a little bit about the experience. Our group had the opportunity to take an intensive class with the local capoeira Angola group, Grupo Zimba, where we learned the basic movements, played with one another, and even learned to play the traditional instruments, such as the tambourine and the berimbau.

It was awesome to share the class with the community we have been getting to know, but it was especially cool to end the class with a conversation that was demonstrative of the the gratitude that both our group and the community feel for this exchange. A number of the capoeiristas explained that the homestays and the class have allowed them to really get to know Americans beyond the stereotypes with which they are familiar. They also admired the students´ courage to get in the roda and play capoeira.

Our group expressed their gratitude for this exhange, and for the hospitality of the community. One student commented that not many 17-year-olds have the chance to play capoeira in Brazil, especially with people who have trained for years in this traditional Afro-Brazilian martial art.

I´ll close here because I know you will all here a lot more about this tomorrow, but it was a beautiful night!

Boa noite!

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Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

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Capoeira em Diogo

Hanna Jacobsen,Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

Description

Capoeira class ended not too many hours ago, and while it is fresh in my mind I wanted to share a little bit about the experience. Our group had the opportunity to take an intensive class with the local capoeira Angola group, Grupo Zimba, where we learned the basic movements, played with one another, and […]

Posted On

07/5/10

Author

Hanna Jacobsen

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It certainly sounds as though you are all enjoying Brazil and much of what it has to offer... especially the hospitality of the generous and kind people. The colors, the music, the sights, the food and the overall ease with which the Brazilians live their lives sounds so intoxicating... how wonderful to enjoy each moment of life without the stress we experience here, in the States. I am sure many of the parents here would love to share the same lifestyle as thefamilies you have met... but, we are takinggreat pleasure in living vicariously through your experiences and adventures. Thank you all for your postings... I have found them facsinating and very insightful to the Brazilian culture.


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Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

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Mom

Marianne Cherkas,Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

Description

It certainly sounds as though you are all enjoying Brazil and much of what it has to offer… especially the hospitality of the generous and kind people. The colors, the music, the sights, the food and the overall ease with which the Brazilians live their lives sounds so intoxicating… how wonderful to enjoy each moment […]

Posted On

07/5/10

Author

Marianne Cherkas

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As Nik and I hiked up the hill to our first home stay of our trip I was nervous and didn't know what to expect. But when we were finally greeted by our host mother, the funny and crazy samba dancing women made us feel welcomed. She still has not stopped smiling when we're with her. The first difference between my home in Boulder and my home stay was that everything, no matter what time of day, was very calm and slow going. While at home these moments or even long portions of the day still take place at home they are often interrupted by the need to be rushed out the door to a sports game or practice. A consequence of this is that a lot of lunches and dinners may be picked up at a grocery store near the gym, or field and eaten in the car. Whereas here when it is dinner time or lunch time the entire family is there around the table or sitting on the couch in the next room. Or during dinner if one of our host mothers sons was in his room he would be playing guitar for close to an hour and the whole mood of the house, as my host mother said, was very tranquil. It is amazing how her house operates on a day to day basis. Even though all of her sons or "the brothers" as we call them, are always busy with something, they always seem to make it look so slow and peaceful around the house when they are doing it. It is a massive change from the hurried life in the United States.

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Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

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Home Stay

Bobby Cendali,Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

Description

As Nik and I hiked up the hill to our first home stay of our trip I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. But when we were finally greeted by our host mother, the funny and crazy samba dancing women made us feel welcomed. She still has not stopped smiling when we’re with […]

Posted On

07/4/10

Author

Bobby Cendali

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    [post_content] => Sitting here, in the small kitchen writing in my soaking wet notebook, I've been thinking back on the day, the way we've been living these past few days and of what we have been learning; sustainablity and what that means, perma-culture, and realistic outlooks ofthe future. We've been guided to think about each aspect on each day and how we feel about each thing that comes up, and while discussing perma-culture, a way of recycling life and using everything to it's fullest, even past the value that we may intially see, and being able to live at one with nature, taking only our share and giving back that or more. I started picturing my home in a new way, in a much more negative light and tried to think about the ways I could bring this stuff all back home and realized how difficult it would be and how unwilling our society would be to form to it. Thinking about the attitude, the fast-pased and overly stressful enviornment that I live in and realized, I don't want to go home. I know it's only been a few days, and I'm sure my mind will change but at this point the reasons to stay in this amazing place with these awesome people outweigh the functional toilets and unnessisary cars that I have become so accustom to...
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Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

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Perma-culture

Nikki Ferguson,Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

Description

Sitting here, in the small kitchen writing in my soaking wet notebook, I’ve been thinking back on the day, the way we’ve been living these past few days and of what we have been learning; sustainablity and what that means, perma-culture, and realistic outlooks ofthe future. We’ve been guided to think about each aspect on […]

Posted On

07/4/10

Author

Nikki Ferguson

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    [post_content] => As we arrive in Diogo, we´re seperated into homestays with different families around the village. I had the pleasure of staying with a family of four right in the center of the village. She has a six year old daughter named Amanda and a two year old son named Derek. Her husband who constantly works is named Leo. Hanging around the house, I was expecting her to constantly be running errands and be busy.. the whole day she just hung around the house and front porch and chatted up with the neighbors. Now.. if I was at home, my mom wouldn´t even have time to stop and talk to me. This is so cool, my host mom seemed so bonded and comfortable with her neighbors. I LOVE IT HERE!
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Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

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Differences

Victoria Duffy,Brazil: Sustainable Future, Summer 2010

Description

As we arrive in Diogo, we´re seperated into homestays with different families around the village. I had the pleasure of staying with a family of four right in the center of the village. She has a six year old daughter named Amanda and a two year old son named Derek. Her husband who constantly works […]

Posted On

07/3/10

Author

Victoria Duffy

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